Sept. 16, 2015, © Leeham Co., Mobile (AL): The opening of the Airbus A320 Final Assembly Line here achieves a major set of goals set by the company 10 years ago for its own strategic purposes, but officials are also mindful of the larger impact on US aerospace.
Top executives point out that the Mobile plant reestablished a second commercial aviation assembly site in the US since the last MD-11s and MD-95s rolled out of the former McDonnell Douglas plant in Long Beach (CA) after its acquisition by The Boeing Co in 1997. Boeing continued production of the MD-11 until the end of 2000 (with deliveries occurring in 1Q2001). The last MD-95, renamed the Boeing 717, was produced in 2006. There were 200 MD-11s and 156 717s produced.
With nearly 10 years elapsing between that last 717 and the first A321ceo coming out of Mobile, Airbus officials say the creation of the FAL is not only good for Airbus and Alabama, it’s good for US aerospace.
As Leeham News and Comment previously reported, it will take years for the supply chain to develop a full aerospace cluster around Mobile, but David L. Williams, VP Procurement for Airbus Americas, sees an immediate benefit for the US supply chain—including from Washington State, where rival Boeing has most of its assembly operations.
Washington is already the second-ranked supply state for Airbus in the US (behind California), and it has been for many years. It now ranks No. 4 in dollars spent in the US, up from No. 5 a few years ago.
Ohio and Connecticut remain Nos. 1 and 2 because the CFM56/LEAP engines and Pratt & Whitney V2500/GTF engines call these states home.
Williams plans to be in Washington State in February at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, a supplier trade group, looking for more business from the state.
“Over time we more and more opportunities for US suppliers” at the Mobile facility, Williams told LNC Monday at the opening of the FAL. “It will take years” for them to locate here. Williams predicted it will be three to five years before a number of suppliers locate physical facilities here.
He also said “it is difficult to quantify” how much this facility increases the dollar footprint in the US today, a broader strategic goal of Airbus for many years.
Five years ago Airbus spent $10bn in the US; today it is $16bn, with suppliers in 38 states.
This comment is from Airbus rather misleading and likely self-serving: “Top executives point out that the Mobile plant reestablished a second commercial aviation assembly site in the US”. Boeing has had multiple assembly sites in Washington state for decades, but even if we consider them to be one cluster, they’ve been assembling 787’s in Charleston, North Carolina (at a plant significantly larger than the Airbus Mobile facility) since 2011.
@bruce: they mean other than Boeing.
I would say some competition for aerospace engineers and workers would be very good for industry wages and encourage the best and brightest to choose engineering careers. In other words good for the USA as a nation.
It seems that Mobile is essentially a final assembly and interior completion hall. Not really much need for skilled design and fabrication engineers at that location since all the parts are arriving as sub assemblies. It is possible to set up a design center on site to work alongside the other centers in Europe, but no sign that has been announced
There’s been a team in Wichita for a long time already…
This is an assembling line only and for one good reason, there aren’t many metric conversant workers in the US to undertake more complicated and very critical work in metric units.
Hopefully that was a joke, otherwise quite insulting to my colleagues in Wichita…
They did engineering work on the A380 & A350 wings, for example.
It’s not like Boeing is the only game in town. There are a few other little companies in town, if Boeing isn’t paying well enough…
Like; Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Electric, Honeywell, L-3, General Dynamics, Textron, Precision Castparts, Spirit Aerosystems, Rockwell Collins, Alcoa to name a few….
Highres Alabama FAL photos
I would not have thought I would agree but I think having competition on its home turf may be the best thing that ever happened to Boeing.
So good for Airbus and expand it to A330, A350 and the new A380NEO plant!
PS: I do hope its Hurricane proof!